Our vision for your school

Students who enroll at Sky Islands join an academic community and are expected to take part in that community respectfully and apply themselves responsibly to academic work.   Students should be prepared to be physically active in our field work projects and intellectually challenged in our classrooms. 

All Sky Islands’ students take a demanding sequence of core classes in math, science, social studies, and language arts.  Electives are open to all students in grades 10-12.  Upper division classes in lab sciences and honors programs are available based on eligibility to those students who meet or exceed the academic and behavioral pre-requisites.  Our classes are aligned with Common Core and AZ State Standards, and integrated across the academic disciplines by grade level.  Expectations are high, but achievable, and students are held personally responsible for their levels of performance.

Our students go on from here to a 4-year or 2-year college, into apprenticeships in the skilled trades, and directly into the workforce or military service.   We encourage you to take part in a site visit and to realistically appraise your student’s needs and interests against Sky Islands’ practices and principles.

Dr Shari Popen, Founder and Director

 

SKY ISLANDS’ TEACHERS & STAFF:

thumbnail_Shari website photo_filter3

Dr Shari Popen

thumbnail_Shari website photo_filter3

Dr Shari Popen

SKY ISLANDS’ FOUNDER AND SCHOOL DIRECTOR

 

director@skyislands.org

It is a thrill for me to introduce you to Sky Islands– one of Arizona’s Best Schools for 2018.  Our staff has worked together for many years, is experienced, highly qualified, and student-oriented.  When you come to Sky Islands, you can expect to see a bit of creative disorder at any time of the school day as students and teachers go about their work together.

I have a PhD in Philosophy of Education from SUNY Albany, and a Masters degree in Educational Foundations from Kent State University.  Prior to opening Sky Islands, I taught undergraduate and graduate courses at U of A in the College of Education for 10 years, and simultaneously taught in Political Science for 2 years.  I was a faculty member at Western Washington University for 8 years, taught at Prescott College/Tucson and at NAU/Tucson in the graduate Educational Leadership program.  In a previous life, I owned a bookstore in Berkeley.

Come join us.  Together we will make the world that we want to live in.

Sandi and Skylar

Sandra Rosado --- and Skylar

Sandi and Skylar

Sandra Rosado --- and Skylar

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

 

office@skyislands.org

I have worked in and around schools most of my adult life, in positions from School Nurse to Director of Operations for a large California school district.  Thinking I’d retired, I moved to Tucson and then met Shari as she was launching Sky Islands.  The opportunity to be a part of that adventure ended my retirement plans.

I am a native of Puerto Rico and speak both Spanish and English fluently.   I became a world traveler at the age of 2 and have lived and traveled widely in and out of the United States.   Living abroad has given me an expansive look at life, a deep appreciation for its contours, and an ability to adapt.  I am convinced that taking students beyond their familiar zones enriches their lives, and teaches tolerance and acceptance of diversity in ways that nothing else can.

As the Associate Director of Sky Islands for 10 years, I pride myself in working well with both students and parents.  I make it hard for things to get past me and firmly enforce our Code of Conduct, the glue that holds the educational program in place.  Our collective goal is to support and guide students towards what they want their future to be, and to provide them with the confidence, skill, and habits to get there.

800x800_Staff_LucasBogard

Lucas Bogard

800x800_Staff_LucasBogard

Lucas Bogard

SCIENCE

 

science@skyislands.org

Lucas is a founding teacher at Sky Islands and has been instrumental in developing the science curriculum and the overall integrated educational program. He has degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder in American Studies and Ethnic Studies, and is a Highly Qualified science teacher. He is a graduate of a 40-year old alternative school in Denver, and taught integrated science classes in charter schools in Tucson for 4 years prior to joining Sky Islands. Lucas is responsible for developing the astrobiology, enthnobotany, ecology, food biology and earth science courses, as well as the school gardens and many outdoor projects.

Lucas is a proficient speaker of Japanese, conversational Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and he speaks various African dialects. He is a master gardener and has introduced students to organic, healthful foods. Expect his classes to go outside and bring the outside in— science at Sky Islands will open your eyes and minds to our living world, and especially the Sonoran Desert ecosystem.

800x800_Staff_MichaelBagesse

Michael Bagesse --- and Peppers

800x800_Staff_MichaelBagesse

Michael Bagesse --- and Peppers

PROJECTS AND SITE COORDINATOR

 

mbagesse@skyislands.org

Mike arrived at Sky Islands in January 2014 from Tuller School where he had been an administrator and counselor. He attended Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. Mike has played bass and guitar professionally with several bands, both locally and on tour. He is a master gardener, and has worked at B and B Cactus Farm in Tucson. Additionally, Mike received certification from the Sonoran Permaculture Guild’s Design course.

Under Mike’s direction, Sky Islands has added an Aquaponics system, planted 30 trees with a grant from Trees for Tucson, and has installed passive rainwater harvesting.  In the 2014-15 year, Mike coordinated the installation of the koi pond, 20 trees in the edible orchard, a pollinator garden, and a cactus garden. He also oversaw the creation of the major watershed restoration project in the front area of the school in 2016, and runs the agricultural end of the Farm-to-Kitchen Food Program.

0

David Saba

0

David Saba

MATHEMATICS

 

math@skyislands.org

Sky Islands is very pleased to welcome David Saba, direct from Binghamton NY, to our math program this year. Dave has a Masters degree from the Department of Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies at SUNY Binghamtonand a BS from SUNY Buffalo in geology. Most recently Dave worked as a hydrologist and field technician at Woidt Engineering. Prior to that he was a GIS analyst and field technician at the Upper Susquehanna Coalition and a teaching assistant at SUNY Binghamton. 

Dave’s strong experience in watershed research, field work, and geochemistry will bring an applied focus to the math studies, as well as real-world activities to his classes. His math knowledge and field skills will be welcome in watershed and ecological restoration projects, as well as the field studies and earth science classes. Dave is also teaching a senior level physics class that will rely on his coursework in engineering, calculus, and statistics, as well as his research experience. He is a mountain biker and looks forward to getting wheels on the ground in Tucson.

IMG_0738 – Copy

Steven Painter

IMG_0738 – Copy

Steven Painter

SOCIAL STUDIES/ HISTORY

 

socialstudies@skyislands.org

Steve returns for his fifth year at Sky Islands.  He has a Masters’ degree from the University of Arizona and a BA from the University of New Mexico.  Steve has been a Teaching Assistant at the U of A, an Archival Intern at the Arizona Historical Society, and a reporter with the Woodward Newspaper in Oklahoma. He is the owner of Crucson Publishing in Tucson where he published his two novels, “Take Her for a Ride: A Hollywood Story” and  “Blonde Ash”.

Steve brings a strong narrative approach to teaching history and experience doing historical research and journalism. He is a strong advocate of using film to teach history along with written texts and student research.  A good story teller, Steve makes history worth listening to.

Version 2

Allie Silber

Version 2

Allie Silber

SCIENCE / LANGUAGE ARTS

 

asilber@skyislands.org

Allie is continuing at Sky Islands for a fourth year to bring a field studies component to our project-based science program and to help direct the restoration ecology project. Allie has a BS from the University of Washington in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, attended the Teton Science School in Wyoming, and has received her Master’s degree in Environmental Science from Prescott College. She has taught at the Academy of Math and Science in Tucson; Gann Academy in Massachusetts; and Aspen Community School in Santa Fe, where she created the school garden.   In Seattle Allie helped coordinate the Dream Project among high school students and worked with the children’s garden— Seattle Tilth.

Her experience extends to Israel, where she apprenticed at the Hava v’Adam Ecological Farm. As a field science teacher, Allie will provide a strong focus on site ecology, place-based and experiential coursework. With Mike Bagesse, she was responsible for coordinating the watershed project as part of the C2E grant award. Allie’s work in Santa Fe is presented in the book “It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden”. Allie is an avid hiker, rock climber, and camper and you could possibly run into her on a Tucson trail or, if lucky, backpacking across the United States!

JMais

Joseph Mais

JMais

Joseph Mais

LANGUAGE ARTS

 

languagearts@skyislands.org

Joseph came to us last year from Washington D.C., where until recently he was a Senior Policy Advisor for the Undersecretary in the U.S. Department of Education, and Senior Advisor for Higher Education at the White House Executive office of the President.  He has worked as a Senior Counsel in the Office of Congressman Grijalva, and for TICAS, The Institute for College Access and Success in D.C.  Joseph has a B.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of Arizona, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law School.  He spent one year in Taipei, Taiwan on a scholarship at Shi-Da University to learn Mandarin.

Prior to his Washington D.C. work, Joseph taught at Presidio High School in Tucson, where he was Department Head and teacher in Language Arts and History.  He also taught an Introduction to Law class at Ballou High School in D.C. as part of the Georgetown Law Clinic.  Joseph brings great depth and experience to the Language Arts classes at Sky Islands, designing and building real-world content literacy strategies into grades 10-12 curriculum.  Another side of Joseph—he is a student and instructor of ballet, jazz, and modern dance.

Joseph’s work as national advisor for Higher Education has prepared him to advise Sky Islanders about the process of college enrollment, grant and aid applications, and career choice.

image003

Fernando (Manney) Bustos

image003

Fernando (Manney) Bustos

FRENCH / HUMANITIES

 

mbustos@skyislands.org

Sky Islands is very pleased to welcome Manney Bustos, and with Manney we add French to our program! He has a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Foreign Languages from the Louisiana Scholars’ College, the State of Louisiana’s Honors College at Northwestern State University. And most recently Manney received his Master of Arts in French for the UA’s Department of French and Italian Studies. He also speaks Dutch, Russian, and Spanish. In addition to teaching French 1 this year, Manney will be teaching a Dual Language French / English class to help students better develop their English skills through a comparative approach, and an upper division Humanities class

If you ask Manney what drove him to become a teacher, he is quick to respond—his own high school teachers in Lubbock TX. He credits them for giving him a passion to think critically and openly in the classroom, and the value they gave to creative thought. Sky Islanders will be academically challenged by him and will quickly adopt his infectious love for learning. Manney also brings an avid interest in health and healthy eating that will help connect the farm and culinary classes across the program.

image001

Glen Coffman

image001

Glen Coffman

CULINARY ARTS AND THEATER ARTS

 

gcoffman@skyislands.org

The Blue Sky Café welcomes Glen Coffman back for a second year as our Teaching Chef!  Glen came to us with 25 years’ experience cooking and menu planning that includes supervising student kitchen crews.  He was the Executive Chef at the Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee, so expect a Bon Appétit menu for lunches that will bring you back for seconds.  Additionally, Glen has trained as a pastry chef at Tante Marie’s Cooking School in North Beach, San Francisco, and rumor has it that Glen makes the best cookies in the world.

Glen has a B.A. in English and Theatre Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and an M.A. in Theater Studies from the University of Arizona.  He also studied with the Actor Training Program at Herbert Berghof Studios in New York.  Glen is a Founder of Winding Road Theater Ensemble in Tucson, where he has directed numerous plays, including in part, Death of a Salesman, and August: Osage County, where he won the 2013 Mac Award Nomination, Best Director and Best Drama.  He has also directed productions at Invisible Theatre, Live Theatre Workshop, Beowulf Alley Theatre, Borderlands Theater, and with the UA Theater Department.

800x800_Staff_JasonMarrano

Jason Marrano

800x800_Staff_JasonMarrano

Jason Marrano

ART

Jason Marrano will be on sabbatical leave this year as a full-time teacher, but will still be working with us periodically for photography and marketing projects. We wish him the best this year, and look forward to his return!